A reader asks: I'm applying to a school that is part of the same university I got my B.A. from. Will they see this as a positive (I liked the school so much I'm coming back), a negative (not a fresh face or something?) or neither? It's my first choice.
It depends. Graduate schools use different criteria in selecting among applicants than do undergraduate schools. Graduate admissions committees are concerned with whether you have the background and skills to specialize in your chosen field. Some graduate programs prefer to accept applicants from other universities. In some fields it's preferred that students are trained by more than university and by more than one set of faculty. Moreover some faculty may wonder whether the applicant selected the program for the right reasons. That is, did the applicant select the program for the specialized training it provides or was it a matter of ease, distaste for moving, or even fear?
All of this said, most of the time it doesn't matter and applying to your alma matter may even be to your advantage if the faculty at your university know you and perceive you well.